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Cronk rejects penalty tactic

Melbourne halfback Cooper Cronk has laughed off suggestions by Newcastle coach Wayne Bennett that leading NRL sides - including the Storm - deliberately give away penalties as a tactic to slow the game.
Cronk rejects penalty tactic
by AAP

By Steve Jancetic

SYDNEY, Aug 19 AAP - Melbourne halfback Cooper Cronk has laughed off suggestions by Newcastle coach Wayne Bennett that leading NRL sides - including the Storm - deliberately give away penalties as a tactic to slow the game.

Bennett questioned whether the likes of the Storm and ladder-leading Sydney Roosters were playing within the spirit of the game by purposely infringing in a bid to reorganise their defensive line.

Melbourne were hammered 10-4 in the penalty count on Sunday yet still emerged 23-10 winners at Hunter Stadium to move within three points of second-placed South Sydney.

Cronk - who also earned the ire of Bennett over what the veteran coach claimed should have been a sin-bin offence when the Storm No.7 took out Darius Boyd - denied his side deliberately flaunted the rules.

"Wayne's entitled to his opinion, he's a respected voice of the game," Cronk told reporters on Monday.

"But I haven't been part of a team that wants to defend our line any more than we have to.

"I think the game is hard enough as it is let alone make it harder for yourself."

Cronk admitted the decision on whether he should have gone to the sin-bin for his 55th tug on Boyd as he chased through a Jarrod Mullen kick was borderline.

"Obviously you do things that are the best thing for your football team, but I didn't intentionally stop Darius," Cronk said.

"I think the thing that saved me was the fact the kick wasn't in the best position and Billy (Slater) was first to the ball.

"It doesn't matter what the fans say or the coaches - the officials on the field make the decisions ... it wasn't definite whether Darius would have got there.

"I definitely thought there was a penalty coming - it was touch and go - I sat there and was obviously going to take my medicine but the officials decided in my favour."

The Knights remained seventh despite the loss, but could drop out of the top eight should they go down to a surging North Queensland outfit in Townsville on Saturday night.


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